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World Bank, IMF Endorse $40 Billion Debt Relief for Poorest Countries

Meetings in Washington of global financial institutions ended Sunday with agreement on implementing the ambitious debt relief program reached at last July's eight-nation (G8) summit in Scotland.

Gordon Brown, Britain's chancellor of the exchequer, is pleased that the deal he sponsored and worked on for many years is now becoming a reality.

"Agreement is now reached on all the elements. The managing director [of the IMF] has notified the [policy making] committee that he will now call the executive board together to complete its approval of the arrangements to deliver debt relief by the end of 2005," Mr. Brown said.

Trevor Manuel, South Africa's finance minister, Sunday announced that the World Bank had joined the International Monetary Fund in endorsing the debt reduction agreement.

"I think we can all say thank you very much to the World Bank and the IMF. The development committee [which I chaired] is satisfied as is reflected in the communiqué that those [debt reductions] agreements are met," Mr. Manuel said.

New World Bank president Paul Wolfowitz, agreed that the debt reduction accord is a significant achievement.

"The high point of the meetings is the historic endorsement provided by both the development committee [the bank's policy making group] and the IMFC [the IMF's policy making group] of the G8 proposals to cancel 100 percent of the debts of some of the world's poorest countries," he said.

For the first time, official debts to the IMF and the World Bank are being canceled with the financial shortfall being made up by fresh contributions from rich countries. The debt deal was initialed last July at Gleneagles, Scotland at the summit of the leaders of the Group of Eight industrialized countries.

The G8 includes the United States, Japan, Canada, Britain, France, Germany, Italy and Russia.